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Dr Seuss' The Lorax (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD) | Blu Ray | (19/11/2012)
from £4.01 | Saving you £24.00 (80.00%) | RRP
An animated rendition of Dr. Seuss's classic book about the threat of industrialization to nature, The Lorax opens in Thneedville--a town never depicted in the original book. Thneedville is an artificial place, made primarily from plastic. It sports inflatable trees, fast cars, and air quality so poor that the residents are forced to purchase bottled fresh air. In another new twist to the story, 12-year-old Ted (Zac Efron) discovers that his crush Audrey (Taylor Swift) wants nothing more than to see a long-extinct Truffula Tree, so he sets out to impress her by finding one. Since there are no real trees in Thneedville, Ted acts on the crazy stories of his grandmother (Betty White), venturing beyond the city's walls into the desolate wasteland to locate a mysterious creature called the Once-ler (Ed Helms). Here the story and animation begin to more closely follow the book. Ted discovers the grumpy recluse, who reluctantly begins to tell him a tale about a once-perfect landscape filled with beautiful Truffula Trees and cute frolicking animals--a landscape now decimated by one greedy young man's insatiable appetite for profit. The beauty and wonder of the Truffula forest and its creatures are right out of Dr. Seuss's illustrations. While the forest creatures may not be directly referred to as Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee-Swans, and Humming-Fish, the cute little bears, funny-looking ducks, and especially charming trio of singing fish are instantly recognizable. They serve, as they do in Dr. Seuss's book, to add just the right amount of humor and levity to what would otherwise be a pretty heavy-handed message from the Lorax (Danny DeVito) about environmental preservation. Ted's hormonal instincts to impress Audrey slowly begin to take a back seat to the plight of the lost trees and animals, and the Once-ler's assertion that "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better" rings true by the end of the film. The abundance of original music is a nice and unexpected addition to the story, though why neither Efron nor Swift actually gets to sing is perplexing. (Ages 5 and older) Tami Horiuchi
Despicable Me Blu-ray 3D | Blu Ray | (21/02/2011)
from £7.69 | Saving you £22.30 (74.40%) | RRP
Despicable Me is a compelling animated comedy about an aging supervillain's falling popularity at the hands of a younger supervillain and three young orphan girls. Gru is a true, bad-to-the-core evildoer who's earned the title of the world's No. 1 supervillain. But when young upstart Vector steals the Pyramid of Giza, Gru's status suddenly sinks to No. 2. Gru counters his fall by speeding up his plan to shrink and steal the moon, enlisting the help of his army of minions and the elderly Dr. Nefario, but a lack of funding and the difficulties involved in stealing the needed shrink-ray gun threaten to derail everything. Adopting three young orphan girls is an unlikely, but seemingly effective means to further Gru's evil mission, but Gru quickly discovers that caring for three young girls is more work, and distraction, than he could ever have anticipated. What unfolds is an unexpected shift in attitude that will forever change the lives of Gru, Vector, and all three young girls. A visually appealing film produced by Chris Meledandri (Ice Age, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, and Horton Hears a Who), Despicable Me is full of weirdly shaped characters and settings that are somehow a perfect fit for Sergio Pablos's story. What's especially refreshing is that in this film, 3-D effects are used skillfully and effectively: even when the effects are exploited for comic reasons, they don't become a distraction, as is all too common in many recent movies. The film is full of corny banter and silly antics that inspire plenty of spontaneous laughter, and the minions, while not the best-developed characters, sure are comical. Ultimately, there's also a wholesome message about following one's heart. Steve Carell is the perfect villain-gone-soft in his role as Gru, Jason Segal is quite funny as Vector, and Julie Andrews makes a surprising appearance as Gru's very un-motherly mom. The story isn't new, the humour is relatively juvenile and somewhat forgettable, and it's no Toy Story 3, but Despicable Me celebrates silliness in a way that's satisfying and highly entertaining. (Ages 6 and older) --Tami Horiuchi